This financial support allows the Ecosystem, a new research project commencing in August 2018, to work to actively address the impact of chronic health problems (e.g. mental health, cancer, cardiovascular, obesity) affecting all socioeconomic levels of society.
The Ecosystem was founded by Professor Jimmy Bell, Professor Damien Ridge, Dr Marie Polley, Professor David Peters, and Professor Thierry Chaussalet. It aims to become the hub for world-leading research, student engagement and academic enterprise activity within the field of health and wellbeing by 2022.
Connecting academia with research, enterprise and local communities, the Ecosystem will create and apply knowledge to tackle global health challenges by integrating research from multiple broad disciplines including the social sciences, medicine and allied health, and data sciences in the context of society and culture. It aims to create an excellent student experience that enhances employability, by providing students with hands-on experience of real-world innovation.
The Ecosystem strives to develop alternate, disruptive and evolving perspectives, influence clinical guidelines and policies, and answers questions relevant to different research disciplines and community-based organisations. Some of the questions being investigated as early groundwork are: How is “healthy” defined, and what is wellbeing? What can help people to lead healthier lives? How can data and technology help in doing so?
The Ecosystem is interdisciplinary and sits across multiple academic structures of the University. Its founders are situated in the School of Life Sciences, School of Social Sciences and School of Computer Science and Engineering. Questioning, measuring, evaluating and enhancing traditional health approaches is central to the working of the Ecosystem.
Designs of new technological approaches, interventions and services that can ensure more efficient ways to maintain health, as well as improve hospital and primary care referrals, are also being explored.
Ecosystem endeavours will encourage everyone involved to contribute their unique expertise and perspective, while working both inside and outside of their comfort zone. Professor Chaussalet, who will be leading the project, says: “The Health Innovation Ecosystem aims to attract significant research and enterprise funding. It also aims to be aligned with various University of Westminster and government strategies.”
The team are currently recruiting three post-doctoral research fellows in Health Data Science, Quantitative Mixed Methods, and Qualitative Mixed Methods, and a senior research fellow / Grant Writing Expert.